Saturday, August 27, 2016

Curiouser and Furiouser: A Fast and Furious Watch - Part 2: 2 Fast 2 Furious

Here we are at our second part of my 7+ part Fast and Furious watch.  Just to recap:  I have never seen any of the Fast and Furious movies before and I have actively attempted to avoid spoilers/ plot details of these films.

Well I have to say, just off the bat, that I enjoyed this movie FAR more than the first installment.  The writing was much tighter, the characters had more motivation, and there was actual humor which really helped elevate the movie considerably.  The biggest standout was Tyrese Gibson, who brought a lot of great energy and vitality to the film.  It was not a “good” movie, per se, but rather it felt like an overlong episode of Burn Notice which isn’t a terrible thing as far as movies go.  

Car go vroom vroom 
Our story begins with a street race in Miami.  Already this is a good thing.  The first movie started off with the random heist that wasn’t explained for over a half an hour if you recall, so starting off with just regular run of the mill street racers already draws you into the story a little more.  First thing I noticed was a character putting up signs that said “Road Closed.”  Just this little detail now explains why there are no other people around on the streets, which was one of my biggest complaints of the first movie.  Another thing I noticed was that while the first movie focused heavily on the engines of the cars, their horsepower, etc, in this film the car gimmicks were what were highlighted most significantly: huge stereo systems, crazy lights, smoke, lasers, hydraulics.  These were all elements that the first film didn’t focus on in the slightest.  I am curious whether the developments in car culture changed between 2000-2003, whether the writers simply decided these elements were what would draw in viewers, or whether they simply had more money for cars.  The cars themselves “looked” better, the shots during the street race were more dynamic.  Looking it up online, the first movie had a budget of only $38 million, while 2 Fast 2 Furious had a budget of $76 million.  It is also directed by renowned filmmaker John Singleton.  The increase in budget and the name director really show, even in the first few scenes of the film.  This actually feels like a real movie and not something that somebody cobbled together.  

How freaking cute is this car?!
The street race is organized by Ludacris.  I know his character must have had a name in the movie, but let’s just call him Ludacris.  Apparently one of the racers backed out, so he puts into a call to a “guy” he knows to finish out the race.  The guy is Paul Walker as Brian who apparently WAS affected by the events of the first film as he is off the police force and racing for money now.  In the race are a couple of assholes and Suki, a cute Japanese girl with a hot pink car who has an all girl crew and is my favorite. The race begins and there are quick cuts to close ups of racers eyes, hands as they change gears, fronts of cars.  The CGI/ green screening is at times laughably bad, but at least Singleton knows how to keep viewers engaged with dynamic shots and well structured scenes.  The race is a bit more gimmicky than any in the previous movie, and somehow Ludacris’ character manages to raise a bridge for the cars to jump off of?  The cars are going preposterously fast: upwards of 160mph on city streets and are filmed as if they were starships travelling in outer space, with the world warping along outside their windows.  In fact, every time cars go this fast in the movie, I call it
Paul Walker did not, in fact, go plaid
“Ludacris speed” which is a completely stupid Spaceballs pun that I found myself using at least 5 times in the course of watching.   Paul Walker jumps off the bridge like freaking Dukes of Hazzard and then lands unscathed, winning the race as viewers most certainly were aware he was going to do.  Later in the film, as Paul Walker and Tyrese jump off of a ramp onto a moving boat, they actually do make a Dukes reference.  This is a movie that kind of knows what it is, which is more than I can say for the first film.  

As soon as he steps out of his car, Brian locks eyes with Eva Mendes, who was again playing a character whose name I did not pick up on in the 104 minutes of the film and so I will call her Eva Mendes.  Then the police arrive, far faster than they ever did in the first movie.  These Miami police are WAY more competent than LAPD and have some kind of magical EMP grappling hooks that shut down cars.  Paul Walker is dragged into the police station and then the FBI dude from the first movie and the guy who played Dexter’s dad sit him down for a chat.  Since Dexter takes place in Miami, and Harry Morgan was in fact an officer in the Miami police department, I spent much of the film speculating whether the characters were the same.  Let’s just say they are.  Anyway Dexter’s dad and FBI dude tell Paul Walker that if they work for them as a CI doing (something?) they will let him off for all his street racing shenanigans.  Paul Walker takes the deal but insists that if he is going to have a partner, it won’t be Officer Dipshit they are trying to pair him with but a guy he knows back in Barstow.

Cut to a place that looks only vaguely like Barstow and Tyrese Gibson”s character Roman in one of those races where cars like smash each other that I think has a name but whatever.  The fact that
Tyrese is the best edition to this series
Tyrese Gibson is from Barstow, California I think was probably one of the most preposterous things about the movie.  I actually looked it up and according to the 2000 Census, Barstow, California had a population of 22,891 with only 2,698 of those African Americans.  And I am expected to believe that one of those was Tyrese Gibson I guess.  Uh huh.  Barstow is a piece of shit and Tyrese would not be caught dead there, but I digress.  Anyway Tyrese is recently out of prison and pissed at Paul Walker because he was a cop even though, as we learn later in the film, Paul Walker was not actually responsible for putting Tyrese in jail.  He punches Brian in the face almost immediately after seeing him, continuing the well-honored tradition of people punching Paul Walker in the face.  

They bring Roman in to talk to him about the plan which is to infiltrate this gang of drug dealers.  The
Barf! This car his hideous
FBI has an unlimited budget for street racing cars and they get two for Brian and Roman, though they look sort of shitty and I think the characters kind of think they look shitty too because they complain about them a lot.  Then they go and infiltrate the drug dealers or whatever.  Oh and Eva Mendes is also a cop and she’s like the drug dealers girlfriend undercover or something.  And she wears a very professional shirt that is held together with shoelaces.  The head drug dealer is played by an actor I don’t know and whose name I also don’t know so I called him Douchy Doucherton.  

There are a bunch of street racers there and they have to go and get something out of his car in an impound lot as a test to see who is the best driver for reasons that are not readily made clear.  Except no that wasn’t really true because Douchy owned the impound lot and it was just a test.  What I found most fascinating was that while Brian had apparently been living in Miami for some time, Roman just arrived there and yet he seems to know his way around the city enough to get to the impound lot without getting lost.  He would be a really great Uber driver.  I digress.  Anyway, the FBI see Brian and Roman racing away on this task and instead of thinking they are doing their jobs, Dexter’s dad thinks they are running away in their cars for some reason and then goes to the impound lot almost breaking their cover.  Dexter’s dad is a terrible cop.   Roman shoots at him to get him to go away and it works because they get the packet out of the car. When they make it back to check in with the cops, Roman eats Harry Morgan's burrito which was the most hilarious thing on the planet. Apparently he likes burritos as much as Paul Walker loved sandwiches in the first movie. When they go back to the drug dealer’s house, Roman once again asks for more food, even surrounded by dangerous drug dealers. Roman is like constantly eating in this movie.  I love him.   

Douchy invites them to this exclusive night club where they go and Douchy starts torturing this dude which was super graphic and not what I expected from a light little action flick.  Gross.  The douche boss is also a total misogynist even in a movie that features scantily clad ladies bending over cars. He’s pissed at Eva Mendes for flirting with Paul Walker I guess.  Ugh, what a dickbag. Anyway before that like as soon as Roman walks in, he says he has to piss and at this point I am wondering if Tyrese even
Oh right he also sets this car on fire.
Tyrese does a lot this film
knows that he is in a movie.  Apparently.  He is just so damn blunt and I love it.  What is actually really fantastic about Tyrese’s character is that his behavior totally makes sense in the context of someone who was recently released from prison and was lacking in the niceties of social graces for 5 years.  There is even a scene later on in the film where Brian asks him why he is always eating and he talks about how food was so horrible in prison and he never knows when he will be back so he tries to take advantage of every piece of food in front of him.  It was such a moving and deeply heartfelt expression in a movie about dumb cars going fast.  What I really appreciated in this film was the way that characters were given real motivations like his, that we really understood what was happening and why a lot of the time.  It seems like a simple thing, but the bond between Vin Diesel and Paul Walker just felt so artificial compared to the natural rapport between Walker and Tyrese.  Also I never quite understood why Vin Diesel was doing these huge thefts.  It seems like he could make decent money just street racing/ fixing up cars/ a little petty theft as Ludacris does.  Something about these little details just helps.  

However, what DOESN’T make sense is Brian and Roman’s relationship with Ludacris’ character.  At one point they ask him and his friends for help to remove the tracking devices in their cars, and then they ask him and his friends for help pulling off this elaborate scheme to switch cars so they can steal the money from the drug dealers and run away from the cops simultaneously and rig up some ejector seats and stuff.  I understand why they need Ludacris’ help.  What I don’t understand is why Ludacris and his crew would be helping them when he could both get in trouble from the drug dealers AND the police.  I guess he and Brian and friends, but their friendship wasn’t as strongly established enough for me to believe that he would go to bat for him like that.  Does Ludacris know that Brian is/ was a cop?  It feels like there was a scene missing.  They seemed more like casual street race buddies and not collaborators.  

You know I compared this movie to Burn Notice in my very first paragraph and I really think the comparison is apt.  The end of the film felt exactly like the end of a crazy Burn Notice episode too, with the car jumping off and landing on a boat and all kinds of crazy shenanigans.  This flick was fun.  I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.  Significantly, there was a lot of humor and that bumped the enjoyment factor considerably.  Also helping was the fact that Tyrese and Paul Walker had a lot of chemistry, and that the plot moved a lot more rapidly.  We weren’t waiting around forever for things to actually start moving, and the writers/ director just had a better handle on the story.  However, thinking of Burn Notice again, I am just struck how much this movie and its predecessor would have worked better as a TV show where relationships could be established more gradually.  In fact, if Fast and Furious was a USA show I am sure I probably would have seen it by now.  I’ve heard that the 3rd film, Tokyo Drift, is a real dud.  Not really looking forward to that, though hopefully it will at least be laughably bad.  If the other F/F movies 4-7 are as good or better than #2 I am actually kind of excited to see what happens next.  Just based off the first I wasn’t really feeling it, but now that I have a better idea of what these stories could be, I am looking forward to the ride.

Stray Thoughts:

  • Suki’s car has like a little anime character helper that appears?  Super cute but like what?  
  • Totally forgot to mention that Paul Walker lives on a house boat.  I don’t know how I could have neglected to mention this.  
  • This movie felt like a video game at times, which was totally ok
  • There have been a TON of TV shows/ movies set in the Miami area, Miami Vice first and foremost.  Burn Notice to me is the film’s most obvious parallel because the characters are not quite in the government/ working for the government except when they are and they have a bunch of shady friends, but the setting has lent itself to a lot of great action/ drug dealer/ cop/ car chase type things.  Burn Notice actually premiered 5 years after this movie, so maybe THEY were inspired by IT!  
  •  Speaking of Miami.  YEEEEAAAAAAHHHH

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

On Horror

Pan's Labyrinth is amazing
So the other day, I wrote that I wasn't a fan of horror movies. Two days later, I excitedly went to see Guillermo del Toro's LACMA exhibit, which was absolutely amazing. I adore del Toro's aesthetic, and wandering around looking at all of the amazing art that he both owns and created was positively astounding, and really revealed a lot about his process as a creator. However, these two facts are seemingly contradictory. How can I both dislike horror and like horror at the same time? The exhibit got me thinking about horror in general and my own tastes and style in movies and art.
BEAUTIFUL sculpture by artist Mike Hill

Here is what I do like. I like the macabre. I like gorgeous set, costume, and makeup design. I like fantasy and science fiction. I like sympathetic and otherworldly creatures. I like things that are kind of weird, including Victorian side show freaks. I think taxidermy is cool. I appreciate the strangeness of a work by Dali or the humorous oddity of Bosch. Penny Dreadful, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, X Files, Stranger Things, and Hannibal are a few of my favorite shows. I love Labyrinth and Dark Crystal. I like Alien and Predator movies. I like Sam Raimi films. I love Jurassic Park and Pacific Rim. I like the original Frankenstein/ Bride of Frankenstein, Godzilla, Dracula, etc. I LOVE What We Do in the Shadows.

Here is what I don't like. I don't like movies that heavily feature rape/ sexual assault. I don't like when small children are threatened by violence or murdered. I don't mind violence, and
Del Toro's process is what I loved
the most about the exhibit
I don't even mind beautifully filmed viscera as is featured in shows like Hannibal, but I can't stand movies where torture is the only draw. I don't like jump scares. Actually, I don't really like being truly scared in general. I love movies like John Wick and The Raid that feature martial artists/ gunmen just killing a bunch of people, but I really hate slasher movies about serial murderers without much motivation or backstory who lure teens into the woods. I don't like villains/ ghosts that are invincible. I like movies about monster hunters when the monsters can actually be killed/ escaped from, not monsters/ killers just killing a bunch of dumb innocent people who are helpless. I don't like being helpless. As soon as you give a character a gun to fight off a creature I am not scared. I don't like creatures/ ghosts that just kill people in houses because they died there. That seems dumb. I would rather have the ghost just be a character that hangs out. Monsters and ghosts that sort of hang out/ are characters are cool. Jump out, scary ghosts are too scary. Vampires are totally fine. Zombies are kind of boring.

So there ya go. Does this mean I am a fan of horror? I don't know. I guess I say I don't like horror movies because I don't like being scared, but I like horror movies that don't scare me if that makes any sense at all. Anyway, the del Toro exhibit at LACMA was amazing and everybody who lives in Southern California who enjoys his work or appreciates creepy weirdness should go see it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Curiouser and Furiouser: A Fast and Furious Watch - Part 1: The Fast and the Furious

Just look at how "2000" these people are

This is the first part of my Fast and the Furious watch - for more information see here

Alright so here we go.  I have finally seen the first movie in this long running franchise.  Where to begin?  So I was correct in guessing that this movie was essentially Point Break except with cars.  My problem with the movie, and this was actually pretty glaring, was that even as somebody who has only the vaguest recollection of the marketing for this movie, I thought that it was basically Point Break but with cars, ie. that Paul Walker was playing a cop, and Vin Diesel and his buddies were criminals.  So what’s the problem?  The film is about an hour and 45 minutes long and for the first 37 minutes of the movie (I double checked the time stamp) not only do we not know that Paul Walker is supposed to be a cop, but we have no idea what the plot of the movie actually is.  

The film begins with a dramatic heist of a semi truck by 3 very cool looking black Hondas.  It would be
Pulling off another big score
slightly more dramatic if the big reveal wasn’t that the truck was hauling 12in TV/ VCR combos.  That was the big score: a TV/ VCR combo that I think I had in my bedroom when I was 16.  Big stuff.  Were the shipments of guns or money or something I could have been a bit more excited, but unfortunately the laughability of this “big heist” just stuck with me.  Other problem is that after this “big heist” that takes place in the first 5 minutes, these robberies are completely abandoned for the next 32 minutes of the film.  That is a REALLY long time in a movie that is only an hour and 45 minutes long.  Finally at the 37 min mark we are informed that Brian (aka Paul Walker, aka I will only be calling him Paul Walker) was a cop and that he is infiltrating this gang of street racers to find out which gang of street racers was the gang of street racers that used their street racing to steal the TV/ VCR combos and also apparently other things too, but at that point I actually had to go “oh yeah, those TV/VCRs we saw in the first 5 minutes.”  

In between the opening action scene and the reveal of the actual plot of the film there was a lot of street racing.   That is the draw of the film: cool cars, hot chicks, bros bro-ing.  I get it.  But, I think I would have been slightly more drawn into the film if the story tried to draw me in. Instead we get Paul Walker going into Vin Diesel’s (garage?) and ordering a sandwich from the girl at the counter, who is apparently Vin Diesel’s sister Mia.  Michelle Rodriguez, who is Vin Diesel’s girlfriend, is there and wearing lacy shirts over a bra with a choker that is just so peak 2000 that I audibly laughed out loud.
These sandwiches aren't for you, bro
 But other bro looking dude is very upset with Paul Walker buying sandwiches.  This is a no sandwich buying area.  They get into a fist fight about sandwiches.  Vin Diesel, whose name is Dom in this series apparently, but I think I will probably just call him Vin Diesel, tells Paul Walker that he is going to lose his job over this whole sandwich business.  What?  I am very confused until I see that Paul Walker works at this auto supply store that sells all the street racing people their street racing stuff and since he does that he shouldn’t be buying sandwiches?  Or something.  Whatever.  It appears that Paul Walker wasn’t really interested in sandwiches, he really wanted to race in the street race with his street racing car and that’s why bro dude punched him.  Or maybe bro dude punched him because he was flirting with Vin Diesel’s sister.  Or maybe he’s just a bro dude.  Bro dude is probably my least favorite character of the film, though I have to love that his wardrobe is such a beautiful time capsule of late 90s-early 2000s fashion.  Dude wears a mesh tank top on top of another tank top most of the film.  Just perfection.  

Finally we get some street racing action with Paul Walker rolling up to street race ville in his tricked out
Yo, whatup.  I play a guy named "Hector"
in nearly every movie I am in. 
street racing car.  He’s like the only white guy there and there is some playful racial (racist?) bantering between him and the Mexican crew, the black guys, and the rest.  What struck me about this very first street racing scene, and actually most of the street racing that happens in this street racing movie about street racing, is that it takes place in some kind of bizarre dystopian Los Angeles where nobody is outside except for street racers and people can drive 100mph down city streets without causing any kind of problems.  Oddly enough, I could actually buy into the bizarre science fictional scenario of a film like
Death Race, where criminals are forced to race for their lives in a futuristic prison, more than a lot of the action in this film which supposedly does not take place in a nightmarish future but in a normal ordinary Los Angeles that is somehow devoid of most human activity.  Anyway everybody street races.  Slutty lady says that she and her friend will blow this dude if he wins but he doesn’t win so he doesn’t get the beej.  Seems like a sort of arbitrary method of sexual favors but whatevs.  Paul Walker says that he wants to race too and he is willing to race for pinks since he doesn’t have the money up front.  As we discover later on, he really just wants to win to earn their respect so they will invite him into their crew because he is a cop but how the LAPD (I’m assuming) afforded to give this guy the money to trick out his car or how an officer paid for this car with his own money remains to be seen.  Also him racing so that they invite him into their crew seems super super convoluted.

Anyway Paul Walker loses and is about to have to hand over his car to Vin Diesel when the police scanner indicates that police are finally arriving to break up this gigantic illegal street race that is going on under everybody’s noses.  Vin Diesel is about to get picked up by the cops but Paul Walker saves him, getting in his good graces.  Unfortunately then they accidentally go into evil Vietnamese gang
The aforementioned Snake Pants.
I could not find a good pic
with the pants in them.
But the pants are there. 
territory and the evil Vietnamese gang leader, Johnny Tran, along with his cousin Snake Pants (who has a name, but I can’t remember what it was because I was too distracted by his snake pants) shoot up Paul Walker’s car for some reason instead of, I dunno, stealing it.  But they were super angry, you guys.  Super angry.  Obviously more angry than Tank Top Bro was about the sandwiches because they used guns instead of punchy fists.  Anyway Vin Diesel invites Paul Walker back to a party at his house and chews out his bros for not helping him out and then Michelle Rodriguez takes him upstairs for some loving, leaving Paul Walker at the mercy of bro friends who do not particularly like him very much.  Bad idea.  

FINALLY we get to the police reveal.  Bonus, not only is Paul Walker a cop but his boss is Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs who I immediately recognized despite the beard because I have a freakish ability to identify actors in movies.  Everyone is really on Paul Walker’s case for not figuring out who is stealing all these TV/ VCRs and also CD players.  Apparently the truckers are going to start shooting at the people who are robbing them which, I dunno, kind of seems like they are justified in doing given that people are shooting grappling hooks into their moving vehicles but I guess the police are very concerned about catching the criminals before the truckers shoot them, which doesn’t fit with my understanding of police whatsoever but ok.  Paul Walker, and the audience, is under the impression that of course those Vietnamese gang people are the real criminals all along, and Paul Walker even gets the cops to bust Johnny Tran’s house but nope they were probably gang members but not responsible for that particular theft.  Red Herring! HAH!  What drama!  

No, it turns out that Vin Diesel and crew were the real criminals all along, as is revealed when we go to Bro-chella where all the street racer guys and gals street race in the desert. But before that happens we get a real deep talk with Vin Diesel about how he watched his dad burn up racing this very special car (::he pats lovingly::) that he has never driven and will never drive because it is too awesome and powerful and cool (spoiler alert: guess what happens at the end of the movie).  Jesse the “tech” guy
So high tech!
who has a super high end computer that can do super crazy stuff (Windows 2000!) helps Paul Walker get a new car all up to racing condition and then they all go out to Bro-chella together.  Jesse, who has ADD (tonight, on a very special episode of The Fast and the Furious) is super tech smart but not very smart smart and decides to race Johnny Tran for pinks even though the car he is driving really belongs to his dad who is in prison.  After he loses, he goes AWOL leaving Vin Diesel to pull off the next heist with a smaller crew.  Meanwhile Paul Walker and Mia, Dom’s sister he has been screwing, are left behind at Bro-chella and then Paul Walker, who is getting pretty desperate to solve the case at this point before the FBI “takes his badge” which I didn’t think the FBI could do, reveals to her that he is a cop.  He’s got to find Vin Diesel fast because truck drivers have gotten like super mad at them for violently robbing their trucks and he needs to do something before they get hurt or whatever.  

Vin Diesel and company try to take this truck, but as was heavily foreshadowed by Sgt Buffalo Bill, this
time the truck driver has a gun and starts shooting.  Tank Top Bro gets hit and he’s clinging on for dear life.  Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel both try to save him, but are taking a lot of fire when who should arrive but Paul Walker who found the heist by getting the GPS coordinates from Vin Diesel’s cell phone and then USED AN ACTUAL PAPER MAP to locate them.  Remember not having Google Maps?  Man, this movie took me back to a simpler time.  Anyway, Yay Paul Walker saved the day, but Tank Top Bro is bleeding out and Paul Walker has no recourse but to call in a helicopter and reveal that he is a cop to Vin Diesel who is like super super mad.  

Paul Walker makes it back to LA and confronts Vin Diesel at his house where he is instead of… not there when he knows the police are after him for some reason.  Also arriving is Jesse who was super super scared, you guys, and ran away.  Vin and Paul have a very tense showdown in the driveway but then Johnny Tran and his cousin Snake Pants arrive and gun down Jesse for stealing the car they won.  NOOOO JESSEEE!!!!  Paul Walker takes off after the criminals and so does Vin Diesel in that super super special car that he said he would never drive but is so cool.  Vin Diesel runs Snake Pants off a ditch and Paul Walker chases down Johnny Tran, who is shooting a semi automatic weapon while driving a motorcycle at 80mph down a, once again, completely abandoned street in Los Angeles.  But Paul Walker ends up killing him in what is the first police shooting I was actually happy about in a while.  Fuck that guy, he killed Jesse: sweet, innocent, ADD having Jesse, who just wanted to use his wicked Windows 2000 skills to make cars go better.

Then Vin Diesel and Paul Walker have an epic street race to end all street races which you can tell because there are a ton of whip pans and effects that make it look all whooshy. They are almost hit by a train but then they make it!  But then Vin Diesel’s car gets hit by the only other car on the street in Los Angeles that isn’t a street racing car and then his sweet, sweet, ride goes flippy flippy over Paul Walker’s car and Vin Diesel is kind of screwed.  The police are closing in and it looks like Vin Diesel is headed off for jail, but instead Paul Walker gives Vin Diesel his keys and lets him escape, which is a nice thing to do and will probably have no effect on his career as a police officer whatsoever.  We don’t get to find out, though, because we are at the end of the movie.  However, we do get Paul Walker knowingly looking into the camera with a promise in his eyes of more adventures to come.  

Stray Thoughts:

  • The pre-9/11 world was just so much more simple, wasn’t it

  • What year did all Mexican gangbangers agree to wear the same blue and white checked shirt?  I feel like there is an actual answer to this question but I don’t feel like looking it up

  • I think some people may say that The Fast and the Furious “didn’t age well” but as somebody who has never seen it before I think it aged perfectly because it is like a time capsule of early 2000s perfection down to the soundtrack and the clothes and the seriously dumb looking cars that are supposed to look cool.

  • You would think that there would have been an easier way to catch a group of thieves then to send a police undercover as an illegal street racer in the hopes that the people who were robbing the trucks would also be illegal street racers and the cop would be able to figure that all out.  Seems like kind of shoddy work by the FBI imho

  • Michelle Rodriguez challenges this other dude to a race and says it will be 2 large and holds up a wad of money.  The man agrees and holds up exactly the correct amount of money?  What?  

  • Paul Walker never did get to finish that sandwich

Overall, I had a fun time watching the movie.  It was just dumb enough that I didn’t have to think too hard about it, but not so dumb that I wasn’t able to enjoy myself.  I KNEW this movie was Point Break on wheels, but I am STILL not sure how exactly this premise is going to lend itself to 6 sequels.  I guess I will find out.  Until next time, live your life a quarter mile at a time (which is a thing that sounds deep but really isn’t.  Unless you are talking about hatching Pokemon eggs)  

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Curiouser and Furiouser: A Fast and Furious Watch - Part 0: Prologue

"Let's Get Furious"
Which is something I am assuming Vin Diesel says

I don’t really like horror movies.  I don’t HATE them, mind, but I just don’t particularly care for them. While I enjoy thrillers along the lines of Silence of the Lambs/ Hannibal, I have never seen any of the Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Saw, or Halloween movies.  My disinterest in these movies, my dislike of being scared in general, and the diminishing quality of several of the later entries certainly explains why I have never seen one film in any of these long running serieses... series... serii.  And yet I have seen at least 4 of the Resident Evil movies, I have seen Pitch Black and the first Riddick movie, I have seen 2 of the Transporter films -- I am not above seeing dumb action movies that are sort of not that great.  In fact, dumb action movies that are sort of not that great are kind of my jam.  If I’m folding laundry, popping on The Day After Tomorrow sounds like a fun way to spend an afternoon. Explosions, cheesy dialogue, bunch of people running around, not a lot to think about -- there are a LOT of times where that is all I want or need.  

Not this.  More Vin Diesel.
Unless Vin Diesel is a furry.
No judging
And yet, I have a confession to make:  I am a Fur-gin.  No, not a furgin, a novitiate in the exciting world of fur-based sex play (not my deal, but whatever floats your boat, America), a Feurgin, a Fürgin, a… I’ve never seen a Fast and Furious movie.  It is actually kind of surprising that I have gone so long without having seen a single entry in this series which now boasts 7 films with an 8th on the way next year.  I’ve seen Gone in Sixty Seconds at least twice and it is basically the same thing, right?  No really, I have no idea.  What is even more surprising about the fact that I have never seen a single Fast and Furious movie is that I have somehow managed to remain spoiler free and entirely ignorant of even the most basics of the plot and characters.  This is seemingly unheard of for somebody who spends a lot of time online.  I have only ever seen the first Twilight movie and even I know that Bella has some kind of weird mutant half vampire baby at the end.

What IS Fast and Furious?  The first film, from the trailers I remember as a teen, looked a lot like a remake of Point Break but with cars.  How can you make 7 remakes of Point Break with cars?  The trailers for the more recent entries in the series feature even more explosions, more preposterous action sequences involving helicopters etc.  What the hell are these films about?  They certainly seem to feature a lot of car chases, but why are they chasing each other?  Are they running away from bad
Aww yeah! Sweet ride!
This will be perfect for... robbing banks?
Is that what we do? 
guys?  The police?  Are they just racing for fun?  It doesn’t look like fun.  It looks like they are forced into racing.  Why are they forced into racing?  Did somebody kidnap their kid and make them race or their kid would die?  This seems like a pretty tenuous plot to extend to 7 movies.  There are a lot of films that I haven’t seen but of which I have a general understanding of the plot based on trailers alone.  
The Grey is a perfect example.  I have never seen The Grey but I know that Liam Neeson and some other dudes crash land in the snow and fight/ get eaten by wolves. The trailers made this very clear. The Fast and the Furious trailers on the other hand, at least the more recent ones, don’t even bother trying to tell you what the series is about.  They assume that you already have an understanding of the Furious reality, the füreality, and are content to simply show you flashes of action, explosions, and dramatic (surprise?) entrances of characters the audience presumably already knows.  

So I have decided to set out and watch all of the Fast and Furious movies and write about them.  I think you probably already saw this coming.  Just to get it out of the way here is a quick Q & A.

Question: When can we expect you to post about these movies?  Every Wednesday?  Twice a week?

Whenever the fuck I feel like watching/ writing.  I am not an actual journalist, remember

Question: Really, you have NEVER seen any of the movies before and you have NO idea what they are about?

Yes, I really have never seen any of the movies and I don’t know what they are about.  All I know is that Vin Diesel is in most (all?) of them and Paul Walker was before he died and Paul Walker and Vin Diesel were best friends and it was really sad when Paul Walker died and now that he is dead they probably had to kill off his character or maybe make a hologram or something.  Also The Rock is in them now apparently.   

Question: Why have you decided to undertake this mission now?  You haven’t seen any of the movies before, why is now special?

The first 3 movies are finally on Netflix streaming

Question: Are you watching these movies just to make fun of them?

I genuinely do not know.  I have made it my mission to watch all of these films and I really have no idea how much I am going to enjoy them.  There are dumb action movies I can watch and just enjoy, there are dumb action movies that I watch and mostly just talk through MST3K style.  Which will these be?  No idea.

Question: There probably have been other people who watched all the Fast and Furious movies and wrote about them.  Even if you haven’t seen the movies, are you going to read other blogs, reviews, or IMDB pages?

R.I.P. Paul Walker
No.  I am going to do my utmost to remain as ignorant of these films as possible.  I would appreciate friends not spoiling these movies for me, if there are in fact any spoilers to be had in a series about a group of spies who travel the world in their sentient cars in search of the enchanted crystal and to avenge the death of Paul Walker or whatever the plot of the movies happen to be.  

So there you have it, folks.  While you cannot expect any regularity in my publishing, I am watching the first movie tonight, so expect an update soon.